A tiny message hidden in Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” was written by the artist himself, a new investigation has found, resolving one of modern art’s most enduring mysteries.
The message “Can only have been painted by a madman,” scrawled and barely visible in the top left-hand corner of the painting, has been the subject of debate for decades and was widely believed to have been an act of vandalism by a viewer of the piece.
But extensive research by the National Museum of Norway has revealed that Munch wrote the phrase himself.
The Expressionist masterpiece is one of the most celebrated works of modern times, heralded as a timeless depiction of human anxiety. The subject’s anguished face has become so familiar that it was recently given its own emoji.
Curators used infrared technology to analyze the message, which was added on top of the finished painting, comparing it with Munch’s notes and letters.